You know the problem.
You’ve done everything right along the way. The client is easy to talk to. They’re friendly. They like you’re product. They’re interested, and they like you.
In other words, all the lights are green, when it comes to making the sale.
Yet – when you move in for the close, the client squirms. Either they think what you’re offering is too expensive, they need to talk to their manager, or the situation has changed and your offering is no longer as attractive to them as it used to be.
At any rate. It pretty soon becomes clear, that the sale won’t happen.
This happens every day in every sales organization big and small.
Unfortunately there isn’t only one simple cause underlying this problem – if there was it would be easy to fix, and you’d have already fixed it.
Instead, there are many causes that explain this issue.
In the following I’m going to outline a few of them, provide an explanation of each, and then outline what to do about them.
Three of the main causes of why sales are hard to close are as follows:
- The salesperson is not talking to a decision maker
- The salesperson has positioned themselves incorrectly from the start
- The client feels there are unmet needs/obstacles before the sale can move ahead
The salesperson is not talking to a decision maker
This one is as old as selling itself.
What’s interesting is that this problem still stumps so many otherwise intelligent and hard-working salespeople.
More often than not it can be avoided by asking any of the following questions at the beginning of the first conversation with your potential client:
- Other than you, who do we need to get on the same page in order to make this project a success?
- How do we make sure we get all the stakeholders aligned on this?
- Who else holds a stake in making this project successful, seen from your perspective?
If you ask any of those questions, you are much closer to getting an understanding, of what the stakeholder landscape looks like, and how to navigate accordingly.
Once you get the people in the room who holds a stake in what you’re proposing you give yourself a much better chance of being successful, than you otherwise would have.
The salesperson has positioned themselves incorrectly from the start
In so many of the sales calls I’ve heard over the years, the salesperson starts the conversation with something akin to If you provide the coffee, I’ll bring the pastries, and we can sit down and have a chat and see what comes of it.
The positive intent behind this type of statement is very clear – the salesperson wants to do their best to come across as friendly and unthreatening in the hopes that as soon as they come through the door, their product or service combined with their gift of gab will do the required work for them.
The sad fact of the matter however, is that when you start the conversation this way, the client won’t see the meeting as a business meeting, where the end goal is an exchange of money for goods or services, but rather as a convenient way to exchange ideas and gain intelligence from the marketplace for free.
These are very different positions, and when you start the conversation this way, it’s no wonder that clients balk when it comes time to talk dollars and cents.
A better approach – and one that can accelerate your lead time immensely – is to state to the client clearly the object of your call within the first few minutes of your first interaction (and preferably over the phone to weed out any dead-end leads early) – this might sound like this:
Mrs. Client, the reason I want to see you for our meeting on Wednesday is because based on what you’ve told me so far, it seems that we could benefit from working with each other. So seen from my perspective the objective of our meeting is to figure out if that’s true, and if so how that might work in practice – does that sound good to you?
When you do it this way, there can be no mistaking what you’re about, or what the meeting is about. And if the client balks at that proposition, then they probably would have done so anyway come closing time, and you’ve just saved yourself a truckload of time, that is better spent with warmer leads.
The client feels there are un-addressed needs or challenges
What we’re really talking about here, is that the sales-person has moved to the solution too fast. One of the main mistakes the people in my workshops make, is that they move to the solution before they’ve fully understood the client’s situation. In other words, they fail to get to the bottom of questions such as;
- What’s the main goal the client is striving to achieve?
- Which obstacles do they need to navigate to get there?
- What is their own experience and resources available to address this problem?
Before you’ve answered those three questions, it’s very hard to see where your solution fits into the client’s world – and thus will be perceived from their perspective.
In other words it doesn’t make sense to talk about all the great things your product or service can do, until you’re certain it’s what the client is looking for.
I’ll never forget the client who said to me I think your product is really great, but I don’t think I have the problem that it solves.
Sometimes you win – sometimes you learn.
There are endless reasons why a particular sale doesn’t close – but having analyzed more sales from start to finish than I want to count, one of the three reasons listed above are the culprit more often than not.
Conversely, if you;
- consistently talk to decision makers
- position yourself to close the sale from the beginning of the interaction
- explore the clients needs and challenges in depth
Then you give yourself the best possible shot at closing the sale.